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A red 2024 Chevy Colorado is shown driving on a dirt path.

The 2024 Chevy Colorado: An Award-Winning Way to Go Off-Road

Pilots don’t make their first flight in a Boeing 737, and even the world’s greatest off-roaders didn’t start out in the most advanced truck that money can buy. The Chevrolet Colorado recently celebrated its 20th anniversary as the midsize truck people turn to when they want to get their feet wet in the off-roading world—but that won’t make them feel like a beginner when they hit the trails.

With the 2024 Chevy Colorado, GM has set the bar even higher. How high? Motor Trend named the newest Colorado its 2024 “Truck of the Year,” beating out every other midsize, full-size, and heavy-duty truck in the world to take the Golden Calipers. It’s the third time this nameplate has received the honor. The Chevy Colorado also snagged the award for Edmunds’ 2024 “Top Rated Truck”—again, not just the top midsize truck, but the top truck overall.

When a purportedly entry-level truck is winning prestigious awards left and right, it gets your attention. At CarLifeNation, we wanted to see what has made the 2024 Chevrolet Colorado more than just hype—so join us as we delve into this entry-level off-road truck and its journey to becoming the most notable truck in the world…

The Story of the Chevy Colorado

The Colorado was introduced for the 2004 model year to replace the Chevy S-10. However, other than using four wheels, it bore little resemblance to the compact pickup truck that had graced North American roads since 1981. Though still a compact truck, it was larger, taller, more modern, and brawnier.

The early Colorados were known for having a myriad of choices. At one point, there were no less than seven engine options and three body styles to dial things in. Several other changes from the S-10 marked the Colorado as a new contender in the off-road category. There was the addition of an electronic two-speed transfer case on four-wheel-drive models that let you instantly switch between 2WD and 4WD modes. They also offered the now-legendary Z71 off-road suspension package complete with a locking rear differential.

Beginning in 2012, the Colorado took a two-year break in the North American market (though it was still manufactured for Australasia and Thailand). When it returned for the 2015 model year, it was like the Colorado had grown up; it was expanded from a compact to a midsize, making it more of an all-around truck without losing its sense of adventure. There were also larger engines, a higher towing capacity, and a more refined look both inside and outside. The upgrade got noticed, with both the 2015 and 2016 models receiving Motor Trend’s “Truck of the Year” accolades.

GM overhauled the Chevy Colorado again in 2023, and the added tweaks for 2024 now put it at the top of the pickup pack again. With that in mind, it’s now time to answer the question that most of you are asking…

A blue 2024 Chevy Colorado ZR2 s shown driving off-road.

What’s So Great About the 2024 Colorado?

We’ve come up with two analogies for the latest off-road Colorado. One is that it’s an adult who has matured but still managed to keep the youthful energy, excitement, and muscle that made it so popular in high school. Another is that it’s a middleweight boxer who has reached their full potential and is now dismantling all challengers in its class.

Either way, it’s a truck that can handle pretty much any terrain but still does great over the road and around town. We should start with the fact the powertrain and body options are scaled back considerably compared to the original Colorado. Instead of forty-plus combinations, you’re now limited to a pair of engine choices, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and a crew-cab body.

This isn’t a bad thing, though. It’s more along the lines of GM having dialed in on what entry-level off-roaders are looking for and doing it well—kind of like a restaurant that only offers a few entrees but knocks each one out of the park.

The base 2.7L turbocharged I-4 engine gives you 237 hp and 259 lb-ft of torque. In higher trims, you’ll be working with 310 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque from the GM TurboMax I-4 engine. That’s a bigger power/torque dose than any of the Colorado’s midsize rivals, including the Ford Ranger and Jeep Gladiator—and when you’re driving through deep sand or over rocks, you need all the torque you can get.

The transmission in the 2024 Colorado is also designed with off-roading in mind. It has an electronic overdrive and is paired with GM’s two-speed transfer case in select models for grabbing the exact ratio you need. Are you towing a boat or a camper into the boonies? The Tow/Haul mode changes the upshift and downshift points so you can accelerate and stop faster. There are also multiple grading braking modes to help slow your Colorado when careening down a steep hill. It’s a powertrain that gives you the power and the assistance to get away from the beaten path with confidence.

A close-up of an infotainment screen in a 2024 Chevy Colorado is shown.

A Truck You Can Build On

Of course, some of you reading this aren’t necessarily making your first trip to the off-road rodeo; we know others are thinking that they don’t want to outgrow their truck in a year or two. Fear not, for while GM may have pared down the powertrain choices, with six different Colorado trims, it still has solutions for beginner, intermediate, and even some advanced adventurers.

Are you just going to tackle trails once in a blue moon? The introductory Colorado LT and WT trims are perfect for that with standard four-wheel drive, black recovery hooks, and Chevy Safety Assist suite.

If you’re already more serious about off-roading, the Colorado Trail Boss steps things up with the TurboMax engine, a factory two-inch lift kit, larger all-terrain tires, an auto-locking rear differential, a push-button transfer case, and four different drive modes. The Colorado Z71 loses the lift kit but adds a front locking differential and makes both the front and rear driver-selectable. It also upgrades to all-LED exterior lighting for improved visibility during nighttime travels.

Finally, if you want a true off-road beast that can run with the best of them, there’s the Colorado ZR2 and Colorado ZR2 Bison. The ZR2 uses 33-inch mud terrain tires—in other words, tires that are for off-road first, second, and third—and rolls on a three-inch lift. You get a whopping five drive modes and a performance suspension that’s the only one in its class with Multimatic DSSV shock dampers.

As for the ZR2 Bison, it recalls the thundering herds of the old American West with even larger mud tires, AEV wheels, a winch-capable front bumper, boron steel skid plates, and other goodies. Whatever type of off-roading you’re ready to do now or plan to do in the future, there’s a Colorado ready and waiting.

A Big-Time Truck in a Midsize Package

After 21 years and 19 North American iterations, the Chevy Colorado has shown you don’t need a heavy-duty truck or an SUV to experience off-road thrills. Accessible to first-timers but with plenty of available trims and features for more seasoned swashbucklers, there’s little argument that the 2024 Chevy Colorado is the best version ever; we’ve barely gotten into the advanced tech, redesigned body, and surprisingly spacious interior, either.

This certainly isn’t the first time we’ve written about the admirable Chevy Colorado at CarLifeNation—and if it continues to blaze new paths and win awards, it won’t be the last. We hope you’re as excited as we are about taking the 2024 Chevy Colorado for an off-road spin and seeing what GM comes up with for 2025.

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